Amid the vibrant décor of Vega Mexican Cuisine, chefs treat patrons to a menu suffused with gooey quesadillas, piping-hot soups, house-made tortillas and salsas, and a host of organic ingredients. Diners can warm belly motors with a bowl of creamy poblano chili soup—corn kernels, potatoes, and mushrooms drenched in cheese—beneath the watchful eyes of a Frida Kahlo portrait or anchor fork tines in a salmon salad drizzled in a honey-chipotle creamy dressing. An eclectic assortment of chandeliers bathes colorful booths in warm lighting as dinnertime eaters sup on shrimp fajitas, which conceal adobo spices and Carmen Sandiego beneath a medley of onions, bell peppers, and cilantro.
The menu at Frankie & Fanucci's Wood Oven Pizzeria is dominated by the offerings from the authentic 800-degree wood-burning oven, which chars the tasty toppings melting against thin crust dough and crispy panini rolls. The simple margherita pizza consists of fresh mozzarella from Brooklyn, imported italian plum tomatoes, and fresh basil (16", $16.95). Personal pizzas measuring 10 inches entice eaters with a smaller-sized saucer, a whole-wheat crust option, and more table room to build napkin skyscrapers reinforced with forks ($9.95-$12.95). The wood oven also blisters hot-pressed chicken provolone panini and its mix of provolone cheese, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and sweet roasted-garlic dressing ($8.95). Opposing cool textures of the pear and gorgonzola salad allot a small forest of mixed greens topped with roasted walnuts and pear dressing to prepizza palettes ($8.50). Pasta, available at the Mamaroneck location, teams with the scratch-made Grandma's Sunday Sauce to create flavor-saturated entrees such as cheese ravioli ($13.95). The Hartsdale Village location, mentioned in a New York Times article, imparts passionate discussions of sweets through the nutella pizzetta, where the delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread smoothes over pizza crust before being struck with a vanilla ice-cream meteor ($7.50).
Pas-Tina's, a repeat honoree on the Best of Westchester list, beguiles taste buds with old-world recipes conjured from fresh ingredients. Guests can eyeball the extensive menu over the lip of a house-made sangria aperitif ($8) or dip into a hot antipasto plate spotlighting clams, mussels, and shrimp backed by eggplant pinwheels and stuffed mushrooms ($11). Succulent slabs of filet mignon arrive surrounded by savory barola-wine moats guarded by uniformed mushroom sentries ($26), and the tilapia puttanesca sports chopped tomatoes, capers, olives, and a confetti of fresh basil ($23). The menu's two dozen generously portioned pasta dishes include tender gnocchi ($16) and king-size pillows of jumbo ravioli ($15) cuddled up with mozzarella security blankets. At dinner’s end, sweet teeth can sink into a choice of layered napoleon pastry, tiramisu, or tangy cheesecake (a $7 value).
Growing up in the south of France, Laurent Halasz was nourished by some of the finest olive oils and cuisine from the Riviera and Mediterranean coastal regions. He created Fig & Olive with his mother, Francine, in order to bring those ingredients and flavors to New York and California. His culinary team has returned to his home village to participate in Les Étoiles de Mougins, an annual gastronomical summit of some of the world's best chefs. Spearheading Halasz's commitment to authenticity is Executive Chef Pascal Lorange, who has trained with three-star Michelin Chef Georges Blanc and, according to the Los Angeles Times, prepared meals for the likes of President Obama, singer Julio Iglesias, Oscar de la Renta, Princess Stephanie of Monaco, and the Clinton family.
Lorange prepares or finishes virtually all of his small plates, entrees, and desserts with olive oils that diners can sample at the tasting bar or take home to fragrantly lubricate squeaky doors. Emily DeNitto of the New York Times found that the rosemary-garlic olive oil "brought out the earthy taste of grilled lamb chops," and "paired winningly with chive gnocchi and roasted eggplant." Diners share conversation and wines from France, Italy, and Spain at the marble communal table, which often glistens with zucchini carpaccio and imported charcuterie, cheese, and olives.
In addition to the welcoming, jovial ambiance, the restaurant's design invokes the leisurely Mediterranean. Limestone-stucco walls, tall ceilings, and green rosemary and olive trees inspired New York magazine to liken the café to "a ray of Provençal sunshine."
Father-son restaurateurs Pasquale and Francesco Coli chose the name Massa' Italian Kitchen & Bar as a tribute to the southern Italian farmhouses, known as “masserias,” that line the countryside of their native Puglia, located on the heel of Italy. Their passion for the rustic, Old-World charm of Puglia permeates the kitchen, where chefs hand form pastas, chop local farm vegetables, and assemble housemade sausages. As a nod to Puglia's centuries-old maritime traditions, they also seek out fresh shipments of fish and seafood every day. Before diners embark on a gustatory expedition to Italy, servers suggest wine pairings from a list of more than 100 bottles, and bartenders mix signature cocktails with vodkas they infuse with vibrant fruits.
Today the restaurant continues to embrace its rustic roots, catering to diners and families who appreciate classic Italian cuisine and healthy portion sizes. The easy, dining-room evokes the feel of a rural cottage with its exposed-stone walls, floor-to-ceiling fireplace, and woodwork, which was constructed out of materials salvaged from century-old New England barns to created a relaxed dining experience. At each table, Old-World crafted entrees steam atop white plates, while families and friends breezily chatter amid the homey ambiance to the split-level dining room and wine bar.